Some cats aren’t fully satisfied with life inside and want to explore the outdoors. But it can be stressful trying to keep an escape artist kitty inside when they make a mad dash for the door each time it opens. Here’s how to teach your kitty to stop trying to escape.
1. Designate One Door for Outside Freedom
Help your cat learn to associate one door with going outside. Pick a door you use the least and put on her cat harness and leash set near that door. Train your cat by only letting her out using this door. Your cat will begin to associate the door with going outside and stop darting for any open door.
While your cat’s outside, keep her on the leash and harness until you feel safe knowing she won’t stray. If you want to let your cat outside off-leash, you can keep her safely contained in the yard with the In-Ground Cat Fence.
Help your cat associate one door with going outside. Pick a door you want your cat to use, such as the back door, side door, or whichever door you use the least. Put on your cat’s harness near that door and only let your cat out through that door.
Your cat should associate that door with going outside and stop darting for any open door. My cat Skittles had an in-ground fence in the backyard. She would go to the back door when she wanted outside, and I would put on her collar by that door before she could go out. She didn’t try to leave by the front door because she only associated the back door with freedom.
2. Install a Cat Door
You can give your cat limited outdoor access with a pet door. The beauty of a cat door is that you can lock it whenever you want. You could let your cat outside during the day or when you’re you are home, then lock it at night so your cat avoids strays, predators and nighttime traffic.
Electronic doors are a great way to keep your cat in while letting your dog outside. Your dog wears a special key on his collar that opens the door when he walks up to it. If your cat doesn’t have a key, the door won’t open for her. You can also set certain times when each pet can use the door.
3. Distract Your Cat from Opening Doors
Before you leave, use a treat to encourage your cat to move to their indoor comfort area, like a cat tower or cat tree. Give her a few more treats when she stays and toss her a few extra as you’re leaving. When you leave, she’ll be distracted and will eventually learn to ignore the door opening.
Another great way to distract your cat from opening doors is to encourage her to play with interactive and laser toys as you are leaving. These toys will entertain your kitty for hours while you’re away and help them completely forget about escaping.
4. Use a Pet Proofing Barrier or Spray
You can use a squirt bottle or a can full of pennies to scare your cat away from the door, but you have to do this every time they approach the door. Pet proofing barriers and sprays are an easier way to keep your cat away from the door automatically.
With a spray deterrent, any pet who walks near the device will feel a short burst of spray. With a barrier, your cat wears a special collar and hears a warning beep when she gets near the door. If she keeps going, she’ll feel a gentle, harmless static correction that reminds her to keep away from the door. It’s a safe, consistent way to teach your door dashing cat to stay inside.
5. Spay or Neuter Your Cat
Cats who aren’t spayed or neutered tend to stray more often than cats who are fixed. Unfixed cats could wander quite far from your home in search of potential mates. Cats who are fixed tend to stick closer to home because they have no desire to breed. If your cat does get out, you’ll feel better knowing your cat isn’t contributing to the pet overpopulation crisis.
Extra Safety Tips for Outdoor Cats and Indoor Escape Artist Cats
- Pay attention to when your cat tries to dart and look for signs that she’s about to run for the door.
- Post a note by your door that warns visitors to watch out for the cat before opening the door.
- Make sure your cat always wears a collar and tags.
- Keep your cat’s shots up to date, especially for rabies and Feline Leukemia.
- Give your cat monthly heartworm, flea meds and other preventatives.
- Protect your cat by teaching her to stay in your yard with an in-ground fence.